Alberta Politics

Insiders will pretend to be outsiders in the PC leadership race

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel

Former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel is not running for the PC Party leadership

Former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel announced yesterday that he will not run for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership. Mr. Mandel was seen as a great hope by many Edmonton Tories, who believed him to be the outsider who could breath some fresh air into the stuffy corridors of the Alberta Legislature. Mr. Mandel would have been 70-years old by the time the next election would be called.

Jim Prentice Alberta PC Leadership
Jim Prentice

Former cabinet minister Gary Mar has ruled himself out as a candidate, as has former Finance minister Jim Dinning. Conservative MP James Rajotte is frequently mentioned as a potential leadership candidate, but it seems unlikely. Senator Scott Tannas briefly expressed interest, but has since declined.

Former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice is frequently mention as a contender, but is he willing to abandon his high-paying job on Bay Street, and a chance at becoming Prime Minister? Why would Mr. Prentice want lead a provincial political party that is scandal-ridden and behind the times on fundamental social policy issues?

With the obvious outsiders sitting out, this leadership race could end up being a contest defined by insiders pretending they are outsiders.

Announcing his bid last week, Municipal Affairs minister Ken Hughes is the first candidate to enter the contest. He launched his campaign by positioning himself as a political outsider, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

The former MP and chairman of Alberta Health Services served on Premier Alison Redford‘s transition team before he jumped back into electoral politics in 2011. Running for the PC nomination in Calgary-West, Mr. Hughes lost and then won a subsequent vote against former MLA Shiraz Shariff. Upon his election, he was immediately appointed Minister of Energy, one of the most coveted positions in cabinet.

Doug Horner
Doug Horner

If Finance minister Doug Horner is going to run for the leadership, which may not a certainty, he is expected to wait until after the provincial budget is passed before resigning from cabinet. Mr. Horner’s support for controversial changes to Alberta’s public sector pension plan, which could negatively impact the retirement security of more than 300,000 Albertans, will certainly dog him during the campaign.

Currently scheduled to break on June 5, Premier Dave Hancock suggested this week the spring session of the Assembly might be cut short before May 15. That also happens to be the first day that candidates for the PC Party leadership can pick up their nomination packages and pay $20,000 of the $50,000 entry fee. Nominations close on May 30 and accepted nominees will be announced at a party event on June 2.

Ending the session early would also save the Tories from an embarrassing two weeks of having to dodge tough questions from the Wildrose Party about Ms. Redford’s travel expenses and Alberta Health Services’ $1 billion in untendered sole source contracts. Other than Mr. Horner’s provincial budget and two pension bills, the PCs have brought almost no substance to this session.

Other cabinet ministers rumoured to be preparing a run for the leadership include Labour minister Thomas Lukaszuk, Justice minister Jonathan Denis, Energy minister Diana McQueen, and Infrastructure minister Ric McIver. Of this group, perhaps only Mr. McIver, a first-term MLA and former Calgary alderman, could realistically argue he is an outsider.


Union donations in Alberta
Labour unions traditionally make up a small percentage of donors to Alberta’s political parties, and when they donate, it is typically to one party in particular.

According to financial disclosures from Elections Alberta, the large majority of political donations made by trade unions in the first quarter of 2014 were made to the Progressive Conservatives, with more than $18,000. The province’s social democratic NDP, the traditional party of organized labour, collected slightly more $6,100 in union donations in the same period.

14 replies on “Insiders will pretend to be outsiders in the PC leadership race”

Interesting stuff. I disagree with your conclusion that only Mr. McIver could claim to be an “outsider.” Minister Lukaszuk has shown that he can think outside the box – and although I disagree with many of his positions, he may well have enough of “outsider” cred and “insider” cred to be the only one who could pull the PC’s back to relevance.

As for the fact that most of unions donations go to the PC – I can think of no better reason to ban union donations to political parties. What a sad state of affairs.

This current group of PC MLA’s seem confused and inconsistent on so many levels. Are they for anti discrimination protection? Some are, some aren’t. Are they ultra right wing with more Wild Rose views on social issues, finance and health care? Who knows.
They do seem collectively focused (led by Horner, Lukaszuk and Hancock) to make fundamental changes to the pension plans of over 300,000 Albertan s (with no actuary facts only political motives) as well as full support for unfair labour practices in Bills 45 & 45. All very Wild Rose in nature.
As for Lukaszuk’s chances at the leadership ….. zero. There is no splitting the vote under the new rules and more importantly, Corporate Calgary just don’t like accents, sad but true (ask Honest Ed).

Tom Lukaszuk? Jono Denis? Kenny Hughes? Rici McIver? What a sorry group of characters. 2 months ago they were all fawning at Redford for a promotion in cabinet. If this is the best the PC Party can muster after 44 years in office then they deserve to lose.

Seriously why would Jim Prentice want to lead this group of clowns? A third of them are Liberals another third are rabid anti-gay so-cons and the other third are just there because they want to be in power. This is not the party of Peter Lougheed or even Ralph Klein. This is a joke.

I only see one union donation to the PCs – are the others in the constituency returns? Or am I missing something?

Lou – The other donations are included in the constituency financial disclosures. I believe Thomas Lukaszuk’s Edmonton-Castle Downs constituency association collected a substantial amount of the unions donations to PC constituency associations.

David – Maybe outsider is the wrong way to describe Lukaszuk, maybe he’s an outlier? I really hope that Lukaszuk runs a campaign based on his record as a bridge builder in post-secondary education and labour.

Mr Mandel rightfully so has chosen not to be that last PC leader. The Tories got too much baggage and too many skeletons too many financial donors to satisfy.

Mr. Prentice should weigh carefully if he really wants the stain of coverups, corruption, entitlement and lies attached to his name. Theoretically as soon as Mr. Prentice would become a Premier the same business of nutrition would continue under his nose with or without his approval and he would have the unenviable job of defending this garbage everyday. It would be the end of a good name and a good brand. It totally makes sense that an insider would run for this, since most of them are already stained with the malfeasance and kurruption and coverup of Tory past. Mr. Mandel and now Mr. Prentice would be wise to steer clear of the stain of Tory past as the Tories are looking for anybody to pull them out of their political uncertainty in the wake of a Wildrose juggernaut. If Mr. Prentice considered joining Wildrose, it would be a guaranteed catastrophic electoral demise for the AB Tories. That would be a win win for WR and Prentice.

How anyone can continue to support the PCs now is beyond reason. Liberal support has dwindled with a lack of riding associations. The Alberta Party has a long way to go still. The NDP and Wildrose are poised to take more seats.

The PC brand is dead. Frankly, for any disillusioned PCs out there (of which I’m not!) – your best hope is to go into opposition -retool, recharge and rebrand, figure out what you are, get a REAL leader, similar to what the Liberals did in Quebec. At LEAST 80% of the current caucus needs to go, as do most of the Party executives, and crony bureaucrats. Many of the comments I see on here abour Wildrose are inaccurate. Wildrose would repeal all anti-union legislation the PCs are pushing right now and would bargain in good faith.

Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it before. A leader leaves, and unless there is someone holding a bloody knife, no one has any idea who could possibly replace them, because all the contenders are a bunch of nobodies who have never led anything before.

In reality, no one can ever be qualified for a job that they have never done before, so let’s stop pretending like it’s a shock that there are no qualified candidates. And the threshold is whether you can win a leadership election in the PC party, and keep the PC party as the least-hated option on the political spectrum in a general election. The skills that are needed to accomplish those two objectives are categorically different from and probably highly incompatible with the skills that would make one an effective Premier.

So no, there are no qualified candidates, and even if there were they wouldn’t get the job, because the test for getting the job has nothing to do with being qualified for it.

But this is as it has always been, and with the possible exception of Rob Ford, we have managed to avoid the worst case scenarios. Let’s not be so quick to judge everybody unworthy before they have had a chance.

Dwindled Liberal associations just appear to be an interim and temporary issue once they are reinstated, it will be business as usual. Its true the Dippers and Libs will definitely pickup spoils from the PCs. Wild rose will devour rural ridings and many Conservative Calgary ridings. There will be a fiercer competition in Edmonton for progressive ridings. Best insider would be Horner. Mr. Prentice is a rising star, its really way beneath him to be a Tory Leader.

There isn’t a single rationale reason for Jim Prentice to take this crappy job except for pure, unbridled ego. Thus, if he takes it, he loses my respect forever. Opposition time, PCs.

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